Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Who Killed the Farnies' Electric Car?

It was me! I confess. Kent and I have been talking for a long time about either building an electric car, converting one, or buying one. The idea of plugging in your car for a few hours and then driving gas-free is very appealing to us, not to mention just plain old cool. As I discussed in my previous post, with gas prices being as high as they are and talk of further price hikes, we revisited our plans and started thinking that maybe this time we would really do it!

Kent started researching parts needed, and the type of vehicle that would best, etc. etc. I searched the internet looking for existing used electric vehicles. Surprisingly, it is next to impossible to buy a decent EV that is new; there are a few used EVs out there, but even they are few and far between. Then tonight Kent and I sat down to look at what he had found in his research about building or converting one ourselves. In the end, I realized that this would be a major project (even hiring someone else to do the installation) and it would cost almost double what we originally thought.

Sadly, our dream of owing an electric vehicle will continue to live only in our minds and hearts. We'll either have to wait until we can afford the $100,000 price tag on a new electric Tesla (, or until Kent happens to have hours and hours of free time and plenty of money to buy parts to do it himself. At least Kent's current car, a Honda Civic, gets decent mileage even if we have to use our children's college tuition to afford to drive it.

For interesting reading and/or watching about EVs, you can read about Chris Pane's documentary "Who Killed the Electric Car?"


Anonymous said...

I would say that urging anyone to watch the pack of lies in "Who Killed the Electric Car?" is tantamount to accessory to fraud or conning a gullible and amost totally EV-ignorant public. Some bare facts carefully avoided by Chris Paineand his environmental shills :
Toyota (1997, Honda, 1996, and GM, 1996, all made electric cars available to Californians during the mid 1990's. GM and Honda only leased theirs, the car's price tag being way too high for such a niche vehicle, and Toyota mostly leased their electric Rav4s as well. Each of the three EVs cost between 3 and 4 times more than a Honda Accord to produce, or over $43,000 (over $53,000 for the Honda EV).
Starting to sound unlike the film's claim about cheap electric transportation, doesn't it? But that's not all : the battery packs of NiMH batteries (total weight 1200 pounds(!!!)) cost over $20,000 and lasted but 5 years. That's $4,000 per year for battery replalcement costs, at a time when gasoline bills average less than $1,000 a year. Gee, the film seems to have lied. The film also claimed the EV "Could accomplish over 90% of one's transportation needs." Now how do you suppose Chris Paine would like a car that broke down 10% of the time, or a heart pacemaker that worked 90% of the time? It also meant that no one can own just an electric car - they have to own and maintain at least one gas powered vehicle whenthey
want to reach destinations over 40 miles away (the driving radius of the EV-1 with new batteries. After a few years, the radius shrank to 30 miles). Do you even know how far away that destination is? How do you mind inonvenience? - the
EV-1 might be plugged in for as long as 8 hours per day. EV-1 owners reported that their schedule revolved around the recharge cycles of their electric car.
Honda cancelled their EV program after a few months, due to lack of public interest, Toyota cancelled theirs the same time GM did, in
2002. Somehow, the film decides that GM was the EV killer. When asked about this, Chris Paine refused to answer and changed the subject. The EV-1 was available for more years that any GM model. Never were more than 800 of its 1100 car fleet under lease at any given time. Of 5,000 GM customers identified as "interested in an electric car," (myself included) only 50 morons were stupid enough to lease the vehicles. Those "eager
to buy the EV-1s in the film are reported to have offered "millions."
That comes out to less than $13,000
per car, less than half the cost of just the batteries alone.
Paine made a deal with Toyota and in return further distorted history by eliminating that company as a producer of EVs, even though one of his "stars" (Ed Begley, had bought one, and still owned it). We here at the Electric Vehicle Proponents League
have composed a lot of jokes about the Paine film, which we have designated as "bad, illogical fiction" and a crockumentary.

Kimberlina said...

A lot of what "Anonymous" posted is interesting, and I always appreciate a good debate. Unfortunately, I think he shot the messenger here, since I would classify myself as a mostly "totally EV-ignorant" member of the public. This is part of the reason why I was so enthused initially about our plans to buy or convert to an EV because I really didn't know what we would be getting into. Once I realized the hurdles involved, I was the one who decided to kill the electric car idea.

My husband is still excited at the prospect of somehow getting an EV. So my question to "Anonymous" who is part of the Electric Vehicle Proponents League, is how can we get an electric vehicle that would be reliable as a commuter car without having to devote our lives to a conversion or spend an arm and a leg? We are sincere in our interest, but feel like the obstacles are pretty intimidating.